When living in the Ruhrpott it's only a matter of time when dive into industrial culture. The Ruhrgebiet offers lots of photogenic places that build the bridge between landscape and architecture.
My last big and satisfying photography trip was back in November 2019. I was looking forward to visit that exact same area again in April 2020. This time I wanted to visit Henne Strand in Denmark together with my kids. But then the Corona Virus happened and the holiday had to be cancelled. With lots of countries closing their borders and many closed areas and parks the photography possibilities were lowered to a minimum. So my photography ambitions were limited to places nearby. As I‘m a resident of the Ruhrgebiet in Germany I am not showered with great landscapes vistas. Instead we have a very big industrial culture. After an evening of research I found 4 spots that I would like to visit and photograph. On my list have been Zeche Zollverein (obviously), Halde Hoheward, the Tetraeder and Tiger & Turtle. All of these locations are only a 15-30 minutes car drive away. The weather forecast predicted good weather and high chances for epic sunset light for the next 1 ½ weeks. That gave me plenty of time to visit those places and as in the past I was very lucky with the conditions I got.
At first I went to Halde Hoheward. My goal was to emphasize the geometrical forms that were presented. The suns was setting to right side of the composition and that gave me that yellow, orange and pink, color that like so much. I used a wide-angle lens to get near to the subject. The lines lead the viewers’ eyes right into the center of the frame with its astronomical sculptures and the sunset light behind it. I tried more composition during that evening but none was so impactful as the first one. I think it is worth the visit as the view from up the Halde Hoheward is phenomenal and it offers at least one or two decent compositions.
The second location was the Tiger & Turtle sculpture in Duisburg. I went there in the evening as well, but right before sunset. I had to wait a long time until the sculpture has been illuminated. Unfortunately until that point we had lost almost all light from blue hour. Nonetheless I was able to capture a bit of the light. Normally the Tiger and Turtle is walkable but in times of Covid-19 the sculpture was closed. Therefore there were only so much possible compositions to shoot. Anyway I was happy with two pictures that I got that evening. Also this location is worth a visit but I must admit that it is better to wait until this whole Corona epidemic is over as only then you have the possibility to walk on that sculpture.
The third location was the most fun one and it also offered the most compositions. I visited the Zeche Zollverein with two of my best friends (the same that were with me in the Dolomites). The area of Zeche Zollverein is huge. We spend the first hour with scouting and less photography, but after a while we found different locations that were worth shooting. The conditions were quite good. There were times where there was hardly any wind and so we used puddles and other water surfaces for reflections. We’ve planned to stay until complete darkness as usually the location is illuminated in different colors at night. Again, due to the Corona Virus some location were closed and not illuminated. Anyway, we came away with some nice shots of the local museum.
I visited the last location several days later, as in the meantime the weather wasn’t very promising. The Tetraeder is also a geometrical sculpture that was placed on a former Halde (stockpile) in Essen Bottrop. It was a 20 minute drive and the another 15 minute hike up to the top of the Halde. There are basically two composition options. You either pick a telephoto lens and photograph the Tetraeder from the front or you use a ultrawide-angle lens and take some shots from right beneath the subject. I shot most pictures from beneath as I wanted to capture the great colors from the sunset to the west. From all 4 locations this was the most visited one. Most of the visitors were runners that ran up the hill and further ran in circles around the Halde. But the place was never so crowded that I wasn’t able to take a photograph.
It was a nice alternative to photograph some of the industrial culture in and around my hometown Essen, as long as we all are not able to travel longer distances to get to the epic landscape locations that we are so enthusiastic about. I highly recommend these locations to those who would like to capture compositions that build a bridge between landscape and architecture.
Update February 2022:
In the meantime I revisited two of the locations. In 2021 I challenged myself with a difficult focus stacking session at Halde Hoheward and some days ago I spend a great evening at the Tetraeder in Bottrop, where I tried to capture some panoramas.